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Biological and Humanistic Theories Essay

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Two important personality theories are the biological theory and the humanistic theory. The biological theory is based on the premise that all people inherit their characteristics from their family. This theory basically contends that people do not have control over their behaviors because they are genetically pre-determined. The humanistic theory, on the other hand, is based on the premise that each person has free will to control their actions. This theory does not go along with the idea that behaviors are pre-determined by genetics, but chosen by the individual.

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These two theories have created debates between psychologists for many yearsHans j. Eysenck, Ph.D., D.Sc., who developed the biological theory, is one of the world’s most cited psychologist. He is a pioneer in the use of behavior therapy as well as research in personality theory and measurements. The biological theory has to do with his findings that individual differences in personality are biology based. This was based on his theory that there are three dimensions of personality (super factors).

These dimensions of personality were extraversion-introversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism. Eysenck also went a step farther in pointing out the results of many studies indicating that genetics play an important role in deciding the amounts of which of the three personality dimensions one might possess. I agree with this theory because even most psychologists will admit that it is getting increasingly harder to ignore the obvious link between our genetic makeup and certain inherited behaviors. I disagree with this theory because it is difficult to test in actual experiments. Another reason I disagree with this theory is that while genetics play a role in certain behaviors, it does not excuse or justify certain actions. Lastly, this theory offers us very little in the area of personality change.

Biological and Humanistics 3In humanistic theory, the motivation for developing one’s full learning potential is inherent in each of us. Although there is no real definition for the humanistic theory, the four primary humanistic categories are personal responsibility, the here and now, the phenomenology of the individual, and personal growth. This theory is unlike the biological theory, in that it believes that all of us are born with the ability to shape our own futures and are limited only by our physical limitations. The here and now is just exactly what it sounds like. It reminds us that we should live for the present and not get caught up in the past. This has the tendency to limit what we may become and leave us short of our personal goals and or objectives. The phenomenology of the individual deals with the concept that no one knows you as an individual better than you. It is ludicrous to think that some doctor could have any clue as to what to advise after only hearing your problem a few moments earlier.

This could mean that we need to communicate our problems to someone from time to time, but one will eventually come to his or her own conclusion after careful reflection. The last category is Personal Growth. This process has to do with becoming a fully functioning individual achieving personal satisfaction. All of us strive to meet our immediate needs. This process states that once our immediate needs are met if left alone we continue to strive toward this ultimate satisfying state of being. I agree with this theory because one cannot argue the fact that each individual has control over the decisions that they make. I disagree with this theory because much of it cannot be tested in a scientific atmosphere. A large portion of this theory relies on the concept of free will, which is not observable or predictable. Another thing that I disagree with is that in some instances a person may not be able to control some of their behaviorsBiological and Humanistic 4because of genetics. Cancer and heart disease run in families, so why wouldn’t depression or drug dependency.

Abraham Maslow, considered the Father of Humanism, was an American psychologist best known for his publication ” A Theory of Human Motivation ” in which he presented his theory the hierarchy of human needs. This Hierarchy of Needs can be used to explain human behaviors and emotions associated with potential. Maslow’s Hierarchy may show that fulfillment of potential is linked to a pre-fulfillment of all needs that may distract an individual from achieving self-actualization.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a very compelling theory due to the fact that most discussions of people’s needs in the realm of effort usually begin with a basic understanding of Maslow’s premise. The central thesis of his theory is that human needs are organized in a hierarchy of five levels of basic needs. These needs include physiological needs, safety needs, needs of love, affection, and belongingness, needs for esteem, and the needs for self-actualization. Even though there are needs which sit at a higher level than these basic needs, the person does not feel the second needs until the demands of the first have been satisfied, nor the third until the second has been satisfied, and so on.

Between these two theories, I believe that humanistic best describes my personality. My father was a severe alcoholic and died at the age of 53. His alcoholism destroyed my parent’s marriage and many other relationships in his life. By watching the effects of this detrimental behavior, I decided a long time ago that I would not go down the same path, especially since alcoholism might b genetic. By choosing not to engage inBiological and Humanistic 5this behavior, I have demonstrated free will of choice and motivation to change what may have been pre-determined.

In conclusion I feel that both these theories possess credibility, but personally I think that I would take certain aspects from both theories to create something of a collage theory. I cannot believe that we have no control over our behaviors, but at the same time it is hard to argue that genetic predisposition does not influence our personalities.


Burger, Jerry M. (2008). Personality (7th edition). Retrieved December 3, 2008 fromEsource.

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